Everything but the kitchen sink

Been working a few late evenings at work this week, and with our busy season coming up over the next two months, figured this may one of the last chances to get a few days off.  With the weekend in the middle, I’ve been able to corral five days in a row to get some other things done.  One of the things on the Alaska trip needs was to get everything together that I plan to take on the trip, and then purge a bunch and get the rest on the bike to ensure that I had enough space.

So, after some purging, this is what I plan to take on the Alaska trip to keep me comfortable over the more than three weeks I will be riding up north:

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the gear that will be coming along:

Row 1

REI Quarter Dome T2+ tent.  Great ratings, seam waterproofed but I did it as well.
Eureka Dual Temp 20/40 sleeping bag.  Flip over  for colder temperatures.
Exped Synmat 9 LW sleeping pad.  Better than the different cots I tried, including the LuxuryLite.
Helinox Chair One.  Compact and comfortable, I put rubber cane tips on end for more support.
REI tent footprint for the T2+.  Expensive, but needed to protect tent flooring; can use as tarp if needed.
MSR Groundhog tent stakes.  Very strong stakes, great ratings, and extremely light.
Ka-Bar Cutlass machete.  For clearing brush, chopping smaller limbs, or protection.
Stanley Camp cookset w/ piezo stoves and iso-propane fuel cans (black bag).
Bodum insulated coffee press (green bag).  Gotta have the morning coffee!
Paracord, 50 foot.  For hanging food and toothpaste from the trees in  bear country.
O2 Cool folding fan.  Background noise, and cool breeze on face while sleeping.
EMGO 6-foot motorcycle jumper cables.  Nobody carries these…but I have helped two others with them.
Stop & Go “the Tire Plugger” repair kit.  Because if you don’t have it, you will need it.
Accu-gage tire gauge.  Accurate and flexible.
Slime air compressor.  Works well, compact for storage.
Small funnel.  For oil, fluid, whatever.
Misc. ty-wraps.  Oh, and un-pictured duct tape….in case I need to limp to the dealer.
(4) MSR liter-size fuel bottles.  Gives about a gallon…anything more needed, I’m pushing.
(4) innovative Storage Solutions saddlebag tool holder canvas bags loaded with tools.  Uses the unused space at bottom of saddlebags!

Row 2

Mountain House dehydrated meals and Clif snack bars in Sea to Summit eVac Dry Sack bag.  Gotta eat when McDonald’s isn’t around.
Wool blanket.  In case a 20 degree sleeping bag isn’t warm enough.
CREE knock-off LED flashlight.  It works, casts a lot of light, and only $3 on Amazon.
Harbor Freight work LED light.  Came free with purchase there, looks pretty decent.
(2) headlamps.  To see at night and leaving hands free.
Coleman Micropacker compact lantern.  For inside the tent when blogging or moving files around.
Repel Sportsmen MAX 40% Deet .  The mosquitoes are as big as birds up north.
Coppertone Sport 50 SPF sunscreen.  Hate riding with severe sunburn.
Sony VCT-R100 tripod.  Got if for $7, packs down to 14″.
Ultra-Pod II tripod.  Can strap to anything, very quick setup to use.
Sea to Summit HeadNet.  Because of the mosquitoes when camping.
Falcon Super Sound air horn.  Hopefully scares the bears away.
UDAP Bear Deterrent.  Last defense before being eaten.
Sawyer Mini water filter kit in Eagle Creek Pack-It System bag.  In case I get thirsty after running out of bottled water.
Bestek 4-way socket adapter.  Charges every electronics device I have, on the bike through a SAE connector under seat.
Electrical tape and 25” of heat resistant wire.  For repairs.
Rite in the Rain All-Weather Journal waterproof paper.  To take notes as I go, regardless of weather.
(2) Sony CR2032 batteries.  For a dead fob.  Have helped many others by having these on the road.
Extra fuses in waterproof bottles including 40A maxi-fuse.  Hopefully gets things working again.
Master Lock Python cable lock.  To secure helmet, jacket, tourpack, whatever when bike not visible.
Leatherman Wingman multi-tool and nylon case.  Every once needs to carry one.
Joe Rocket Manta magnetic tank bag.  Storage on the empty space in front of me.

Row 3

Stanley Adventure flask, 8 ounce.  Whiskey, rum, whatever floats my boat.
IKEA Ordning egg timer, converted to rotating action camera time lapse device.  Awesome idea I found online.
(2) Pakgaroo 20 ounce insulated bottles.  Love these, use them daily at work and while working out.
iPad 2 with Logitech Ultrathin keyboard and iPad Roocase.  Because I don’t want to bring a big laptop to blog.
Garmin Zumo 660 GPS and case.  GPS has to go somewhere when off bike at night.
inReach SE satellite tracker and USA Gear case.  So I can be followed by loved ones like Big Brother.
(3) Amazon Basics Universal travel cases for electronics.  Simply awesome carrying cases.
(5) Amazon Basics hard carrying cases .  Does great job of protecting hard drives, cameras, etc.  2 of these fit in the Amazon Universal case.
RavPower FileHub wireless SD card reader.  How I move files from iPad to hard drive without having a computer.
Buffalo Ministation 1TB hard drive.  Main storage drive.
(2) Drift Innovation Ghost-S action cameras.  To record parts of the journeys for the wife and winter viewing.
Buffalo Ministation 500GB hard drive.  Backup drive.
Nikon AW110 waterproof/shockproof camera with CaseLogic DCB-302 carrying case.  Does lousy indoors, outdoor shots look great.
Vivitar lens case, used for storage of extra 64GB SD cards for cameras.  Can never have enough SD cards.

Row 4

HJC  IS-2 half helmet.  Some days I just don’t want to be trapped in a full-face.
Shark Evoline 3 ST modular helmet with Sena SMH10.  Some days I want to have more protection.
Harley Davidson hi-viz rain gear.  Works well.  Hopefully the stuff in Row 5 IS waterproof and I don’t have to bring this.
FirstGear (Warm-N-Safe) heated jacket liner.  Because no matter where, there’s always a chance of cold front coming through.
First Gear (Warn-N-Safe) heated gloves.  I have old man hands; they get very cold, very easily.
FirstGear (Warm-N-Safe) wireless dual controller.  Look ma, no wires to stay warm!
Harley Davidson riding gloves.  In case of a get off, some hand protection.
Harley Davidson Touring Handbook.  Paper maps to supplement the breakable GPS.
Traveler’s Guide to Alaskan Camping.  I cheated…I scanned this and have it on the iPad.
The Milepost 2014.  Same as above, have a PDF and won’t bring this humongous resource in paper form.
Electronics charging cables stored in ZipLock bags.  Easy accessing the right charging cables per device.

Row 5

Harley Davidson jacket.  Waterproof, has a removable liner, reflective graphics, and has built-in armor.  No brainer, although not Klim quality.
Harley Davidson riding pants.  No longer taking, didn’t fit.  Got some FirstGear overpants from a friend to wear.
Misc  straps and bungee nets.  To hold all the above junk onto the bike.

Not pictured (forgot to put in picture)

First aid kit in roll bag.  And it holds a lot.

So yep…lots of stuff.  And, believe it or not, I still have quite a bit of space left so that I can pick up and bring back any souvenirs.  The main advantage to a big touring bike like a Ultra Classic is that it offers tons of storage room which makes bringing along all of the above very easy to do.

According to the countdown clock:
Enough for now…got non-Alaska related things I need to get done while off work.

A few lessons in buying gear

Today is the day I do the “will it all fit on the motorcycle” test with my gear.  Was planning to have everything ready to go, but some storage cases that were to be delivered yesterday from Amazon never showed up…hopefully they find their way out of the back of the USPS square delivery truck and onto my porch later today.  Didn’t let this non-appearance deter me from filling up the formal living room area with all the other stuff I am thinking about bringing along though.

One of the rules of long distance motorcycle riding is to purge before ever leaving the house.  Lay out all the stuff you want to bring along, or think you will need on the journey, and then cut the amount in half.  Do this with the clothes, the gear, the food, everything.  And when you get back, you’ll find you probably didn’t use half of what you still took along.  Planning for a 3-4 week adventure on the road, to areas of the world that a local 7-11 or gas station will NOT be around the next curve in the road, makes you really evaluate what you want to make sure to have with you.

One thing I learned a long time ago, and what every new hiker, backpacker, motorcyclist, or any type of traveler eventually discovers is that you’ll buy the same damn gear three times…at least.  Let’s use a sleeping bag as an example.  Somewhere in life, we get the desire to go camping in the great wilderness (or in the back of the truck) and know we should get a sleeping bag.  So, we go to the local WalMart or big box store, find something cheap for $25, and go explore.  That night, we freeze our butts off and make the determination to never let that happen again.  We go back to Walmart, and buy their expensive bag for $89…the really warm, thick, and comfortable bag.  Several months later, we take it back out on an adventure.  And we realize how heavy it is to have to carry around…and it won’t compress much to give us space.

By now, we spent well over a hundred bucks.  So, we end up finding a sporting good store, or a place like REI or Cabela’s, and we spend a LOT of money buying quality backpacking gear.  We spend $300 on the bag that is 1/4 the weight, but twice as warm…and it rolls down to the size of a 2-liter bottle.  Attempting to recoup our money on the first two bags, we sell the cheap one for $2 in the next garage sale, and sell the $89 one for a net of $17 on eBay after shipping the fabric anvil across the country to the next owner and paying all the associated fees to transact such a sale.

Now, imagine doing this with every piece of gear.  Cookware, utensils, flashlights, tents, sleeping pads, portable chairs, lanterns, clothing, cameras, and everything single thing you could imagine taking out into the woods or out on the road with you.  So, let me share the one secret for outfitting yourself to partake in such adventures that nobody will tell you:

Buy quality the first time.  Spend the money for decent, high-quality gear.  If you decide you’ll never use it again, high-quality camping and traveling gear sells for about 50% of it’s original price.  The cheap stuff sells for 3% of it’s original price, and you end up giving it away most of the time.

Moving on, I figured I’d start throwing out some quick gear reviews.

Cooking on the Adventure

There are literally hundreds of different ways to eat while working your way across the asphalt on a motorcycle or when backpacking through the Rocky Mountain trails.  I have tried the cast iron skillet, Coleman propane gas grill, cooking over wood coals on a grate, and tried most of the different types of cooking stoves (Esbit, alcohol, unleaded gas, white gas, iso-butane, etc).

With family, I don’t mind taking my time and cooking grand campsite meals of 3-4 courses.  It takes a long time, is messy and a bitch to clean up afterwards, and requires a lot of room to move heavy gear and supplies to the site.  On my own, I want to cook and eat quick, with minimal preparation or cleanup, and get into the sleeping bag and get some rest.

When I motorcycle travel now, I get all my gear to fit into two cylindrical shaped canvas bags that are easily stored about anywhere on the Harley.  I use the Stanley Adventure Camp Cookset, which is made of quality stainless steel and can either boil water very easy or allows for a can of something to be dumped into it and quickly cooked.  It sits on top of a cheap, generic $7 Piezo stove that is fuel powered by those mixed gas cartridges found at any sporting good store.  Throw in a folding Brunton fork and spoon, a Sea to Summit long handled spoon for easy mixing of boiling water, and Mountain House dehydrated meals, and I am good to eat.  My cook set is completed by adding a couple of lighters for flame ignition in case the Piezo ignition stops working, and a Bodum insulated coffee press for my morning java needs.  Almost forgot that I found a nice stainless drinking cup with a folding handle that stacks outside the Stanley set.

Multiple sources, just in case

All of the above actually packs down very easily.  The coffee press goes into its own canvas bag, everything else fits inside the Stanley Adventure set’s bag.  I have two ways to cook, two sources of gas, two types of utensils to use…because being remote, you learn the survivor’s mantra of “two is one, one is none” in case something breaks.

As mentioned, I use a couple of canvas bags that fits everything perfectly.

Sorry, still trying to get use to the flash on a new AW110 camera
I can eat a can of dumplings, soup, or boil up water and make types of rice or potato meals.  One of the easiest things to do is use dehydrated meals, like Mountain House (MH for short).  There are other brands out there, but MH is about the best tasting…and some of their meals are actually very, very good.  The issue with these is that to make them last a long time before being used, the manufacturer loads them with sodium.  If you stay active throughout the day, or out in the heat, not a big deal since it helps replenish the most mineral in your body.  But if you do not like salty food, you will not like most dehydrated pouches.
Beef stroganoff is my personal favorite

Yep, you saw it in the picture above.  MH even makes breakfast meals where you just pour boiling water in, let it sit for a few minutes, mix it, and enjoy.  Not a fan of their scrambled eggs…but it’s nutrients in the morning.  For snacks throughout the day, I like the Clif Energy Bars and I’m also a fan of the Stinger Energy Waffles available at REI for a quick energy boost.

All the food and the camping equipment gets double bagged in air-sealing ZipLock bags, thrown into a dry compression bag, and hung from a tree 100 feet away whenever in bear country while sleeping.

Waterproof, sturdy, and keeps the bears somewhere else besides my tent
Camping Setup Gear

There’s hundreds of different models of tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc.  No way to give anybody a lesson in short order about what to get for their exact needs…you’ll just have to do your research.  Amazon, REI, and Google will provide you millions of reviews and links to gear.  What works for me may not work for anybody else…but I have personally gone through a dozen types of camping gear setups to try to find the one “system” that works for my comfort and motorcycling needs.

Tent:  I use the REI Quarter Dome T2 Plus tent (if the link is broken, search for it…REI changes links all the time).  Anyways, it retails for about $319.  They usually have it on clearance for around $249.  I got it for $158 during a super clearance sale.  Was brand new, go figure.  Gets great ratings (look at Google), waterproof, light, and fits in many a motorcycle pannier or saddlebag.  These are one of the best three-season tents on the market.  Just remember, like any tent, seam seal it in the yard before going on your adventure.  And get a footprint or tarp to go under the tent to protect the tent floor from sharp twigs or rocks.

Sleeping bag: I’ve tried a lot.  Most are now in the mummy style (wide at the head, tapered at the feet).  I cannot stand having my feet restricted, so I got a “hybrid” model.  I have used a lot of different bags in the past two decades, but for the upcoming trip, I’m taking the recommendation of a friend and taking along a Eureka Dual Temp 2 10/30 bag.  It flips for the warmth comfort desired.  I have the 10/30 and the 20/40 degree bags, which one or the other will go with me on the trip.  Haven’t decided which yet.

Sleeping pad:  I have tried so many things.  Sleep cots, blow up Thermarest pads, foam pads, and none of them are comfortable to me.  Guess I am too used to the California King bed with the real pillow-top mattress; I am spoiled.  The best pad I found was the Exped Synmat 9 which has a built in rump, is pretty comfortable as pads go (since you are sleeping on hard ground), and folds down to nothing.

Pillow:  Ever pay $40 for a pillow?   I have.  Regular house pillows don’t work out when camping…they get moldy very easy, and they smell after awhile.  So, over the winter, I went through half dozen camp pillows, and have settled on the Nemo Fillo pillow.  It’s the closest thing I can get to comfort when out traveling.

Chair:  Heck, every campsite needs a place for you to sit, relax, watch the sun go down, smack some mosquitoes, and watch a fire for a while.  The Helinox Chair One Camp Chair is very comfortable, very light, and packs down to almost nothing.  Not all campsites have a log or a picnic table…with this, I pull it out and relax.  It is also great to take on charity rides or events out in the park.

My camping setup gear

Couple other things in the picture above:  Battery powered fan, for the noise and breeze I need while sleeping.  And on the left side, a Kabar Cutlass that can be used around the campsite for many different things, and maybe allow me to fight off a mountain lion  Any bears or moose would just laugh at it.

There’s a few other things I carry along for each overnight adventure, including a headlamp, a small battery powered lantern and other essentials not shown.  Everything gets stored in a First Gear Torrent 70L waterproof touring bag.  I then either strap it on the seat behind me, or on top of the Harley’s tour pak.  Since I’ll add some more things to it before I leave on this trip, I envision it will find a place on the seat behind me due to the weight.

Compressed down, can hold a lot more stuff
To carry clothing and such, I have a Harley-Davidson SAC bag, which is perfectly fitted for sitting on the tour pak rack.  Straps down securely, and with a rain cover held down with a bungee net, it stays there regardless of how rough the road gets.
Empty right now, soon to be filled with clothing and cold weather gear
The last thing to cover today is the first-aid kit.  I use a roll type pouch that I found online years ago from a now defunct company and I love this thing.  It’s solid, and in great shape even for the amount of usage it has had and the number of miles it has gone.  It’s big, even rolled up, due to the amount of first aid supplies and bandages that I carry.  I have seen a lot of other bikers go down and serious accidents involving our four-wheel brothers and sisters.  While not an EMT by trade, I do have first aid training and carry some of the more serious types of supplies including splints, tourniquets, and Celox for massive bleeding control.
I need an aspirin just from all the typing today!
There you have it.  Some quick gear reviews on some of the things that go out with me while motorcycle adventuring and will accompany yours truly hopefully to and from the great state of Alaska.
The requisite countdown clock

100% done…ready to test

The Mistress is finally ready to ride again.  As of 7:50 this evening, all needed maintenance and upgrades on the Ultra Classic has been finished.  And what a hectic 4 months and 18 days it has been; between work needs, Indiana’s record setting cold and snowfall, and life commitments, it seemed to take forever to get all the required work finished.

Let’s see…what all got done….well…

  • New tires (Dunlop Elite 3), brakes, wheel bearings – front and back.  Old tires had 12K miles on them and I could easily have gone another 7-8K on them; but now was the time to replace them as they needed to come off to swap out the shocks anyways.
  • The longest job was the replacement of the front shocks with Progressive Monotubes, using two spacers to maintain the height and achieve the desired ride quality.
  • Rear air shocks were replaced with Progressive 444 HD hand-adjustable shocks.
  • New Deka/Big Crank ETX30L 400 CCA battery installed.
  • 30,000 maintenance past due was successfully performed, including getting to the near inaccessible steering head bearing zirk fitting that took nearly an entire tube of Lucas Oil’s Red ‘N Tacky grease to properly lubricate it.
  • The stereo, CB radio, speakers, and amplifier wiring was all taken out and rewired, shrink-wrapped, and secured.
  • New spark plugs installed, and spark plug wires cleaned.
  • A Zumo 660 GPS was permanently installed, using the spare connector on the headlight harness for power.
  • Permanent installation of heated gear wiring going under the seat to the spare accessory controller switch.
  • Clutch inspection and adjustment.
  • New fluids for the oil, clutch, primary (I always use Redline synthetic products).
  • Handlebar grips replaced with another set of the Performance Machine Renthal grips.
  • CB radio was re-tuned and works again.
  • Entire Bluetooth solution has been installed, including the SENA SMH10D-11 and SM10 systems.  The Harmon Kardon radio, CB, and the GPS are now all operating wirelessly when I want them to.
  • New electronics gear has been tested, including Drift Innovation Ghost-S action cameras, the satellite accessible inReach SE Sat messenger system,
  • Made up a new tool kit, including maxi-fuse, regular fuses, and new tools to carry along.
  • Added a secondary tire repair kit since it takes up almost no space.
  • And probably did another half dozen things at the very least that I cannot remember off the top of my head.
Yep, the ol’ Mistress is ready to get her groove back on.  Just need to get some miles on her to wear everything in, identify issues that are still there, and test all the new gadgets.  I hear the weather is supposed to be getting better over the next week, so it may be time to start riding her to work.

Music has charms…to do what???

Follow me on a rambling journey today, and you shall be rewarded with some new experiences.

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!


‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.


Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night


The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King;


He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg’d


Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.


Why am not I at Peace?

– William Congreve, 1697

Ever have a piece of poetry materialize for no reason in your head, and you cannot shake it?  “Music has charms to sooth the savage beast” is the quote generally used in today’s speeches or references, but it is not correct.  I absolutely hated Literature classes in school; I used to ask in what way this would benefit me, or would I use it, in the future?  Who would have guessed that a quote from decades ago would have stumbled into my consciousness once more, and forced me to look it up so that I could actually get the correct saying in the form that it was once written?

Music.  Sounds from the soul.  It is a form of art, in which every single person can participate in and experience.  It is pure emotion…and we listen to different forms of music depending on our current state of being and our mindset.  It is something invisible, that comes to life to be recognized and appreciated…only to disappear again once more into the abyss when we no longer need or use it.

Over the years, I have amassed a very large music collection.  First, on 8-track tapes and records, then cassette, and to the last type of physical medium…those round platters known as CD and DVD.  Now, like many others, I have purged those physical pieces of media that take up so much room and replaced them with virtual files of bits and bytes that deliver the highest-quality recordings available.  There’s still something to be said for listing to a old vinyl record recording from the Letterman, Frank Sinatra, or the Beatles though.

To say that my collection consists of thousands of songs would be a vast understatement.  There is no way to listen to all that I have in my current lifetime, or even if I was afforded ten more trips through life again.  What it does allow me to do is sample the unknowns; sometimes being revolted by what I hear…but many times becoming entranced.  How many songs in the past year have you heard that you could not let go of in your mind?  Ever put a song on repeat and listen to it five times in a row?  Wake up in the middle of the night, a song now merged into your forethought, and you wondered its current significance?

Yeah, happens to me too sometimes.  

At home, I don’t mind sampling music and putting up with going through the “trash” in order to find the ones I will enjoy listening to again.  On the bike however, I want only to listen to music that melds perfectly into my current temperament and will be enjoyed.  Usually once a year, I build up the following months’ motorcycle riding CD or MP3 collection out of the library available to me. This year’s riding music is burnt and copied…ready to go.  

I listen to rock, country, classical, instrumental, jazz, light rap, blues, and anything else that has an underlying beat to it.  Enjoy the bass, but most important, the music has to flow effortlessly.  I will sacrifice music with bass for tones and sounds that provide fulfillment.  There are what…millions of bands since the beginning of time, all over the world?  Unfortunately, very few songs I actually really get into.  Each person is different too…so my tastes are rarely the same as the next person’s.

Of this year’s 1,244 songs that I’ll be listening to throughout the year, in conjunction with days of listening to radio, audio books, my passenger, the person pulling up next to me at the stop light, or just with the cadence of my Harley’s muffler tone, I thought I’d share a few with any of my readers today.  I will try something different and instead of listing the entire playlist that I have made of notable and unknown artists alike, I figured I’d enlighten some others by giving you some names you may not be familiar with.  Feel free to go find samples of the songs on Youtube or Vimeo or whatever video site you like.

The songs I picked below may or may not be known by you.  If you go seek and find these songs and enjoy them, then search for the artist or band’s other songs.  I picked those that have a nice collection of offerings to their fans, but just provided one song choice for each of the groups.  I enjoy all of the following; some more than others.  Again, I’m throwing out a range of suggested works…not just a list of my favorites.  So, let’s begin.  

Light-to-medium rock/alternative

Imagine Dragons – Demons (this is one of my favorite all-time songs)
Bastille – Bad Blood
The Lumineers – Ho Hey
Phillip Phillips – Home
Passenger – Let Her Go
AVICII – Hey Brother
Shiny Toy Guns – Major Tom
Bleu Edmonson – Finger On The Trigger
Redlight King – Born To Rise
Shinedown – Simple Man
Macy Kate Band – Radioactive
Animexion Jota- Bad Girlfriend
Theory of a Deadman – Bad Girlfriend (different than the above)
Chris Rea – Road To Hell
Ed Sheeran & Passenger – No Diggity
Everlast – White Trash Beautiful
Michael Franti – Hey, Hey, Hey
Oleander – Why I’m Here
Saving Abel – Addicted
Sick Puppies – Riptide
Stereophonics – Long Way Round
The Pretty Reckless – Heaven Knows
Zack Wylde – Throwin’ It All Away

Harder rock/alternative

Alter Bridge – Rise Today
Crossfade – Cold
DragonForce – Through The Fire and Flames
Fates Warning – Eye To Eye
Testament – Return To Serenity
Five Finger Death Punch – Bad Company
Halestorm – I Miss The Misery
Trapt – Headstrong
Hardline – Hot Cherie
Jackyl – Favorite Sin
Offspring – Heavens So Far Away


Blackberry Smoke – Good One Coming On
Gary Allan – Highway Junkie
The Lacs – Country Boys Paradise
Brantley Gilbert – Bottoms Up
Blackjack Billy – Born to Ride
Jimmy Cornett – Road to Heaven
Whiskey Myers – Road of Life
Casey Donahew Band – Nowhere Fast
Common Ones – American Gangster
Holly Williams – The Highway
Michael Petersen – Drink, Swear, Steal & Lie
The Cadillac Three – The South
The Tyler McCumber Band – Windmill


Joe Satriani – Summer Song
Cyber Lion – Cait Lin
David Garrett – The 5th
Eric Johnson – Cliffs of Dover
John Petrucci – Glasgow Kiss
Tony Macalane – Autumn Lords

The one song that gets the most attention when others hear it
Clarence Carter’s Strokin’.

There ya have it.  Fifty-five samples from my 2014 play list of twelve hundred and forty-four sources of soul tranquility.  Enjoy.  

Oh yeah…three months from today….departure.

Enjoy your weekend.

A satellite device, new grips, and one thing left to do

After grabbing a cup of better coffee than what Waffle House offered this morning, I set about the day trying to knock out more things regarding preps for the upcoming adventure.  I have been going through my music collection of many thousands of songs creating a few folders of music that will eventually be copied to the GPS or transferred to USB drives to use while out on rides this year.  Specifically for the Alaska trip, I figured a few thousands selected songs will suffice for three weeks on the road, so I have loaded the Zumo 660 up with songs that should keep me from getting bored on the journey.  Rock, classic rock, country, jazz, classical, etc…I can listen to about anything, as long as it has either a good beat or a tune to it.  I may even install some audiobooks…maybe Learning Russian or something, and seeing what I how well I absorb it while riding.

The next chore was to replace the grips on my motorcycle handlebar that have been there since a week or two after I originally bought the motorcycle a few years ago.  Designed to last the life of a motorcycle (per the manufacturer’s statement), I’m now on my third set.  Guess I ride too many miles on the motorcycle than what they would expect.  So, the old grips were cut off, new grips received a soaking with Dawn dish detergent to make them slippery on the inside, and some muscle power got them put in their correct places.Thirty seconds of a hair dryer blowing on them dried them onto the handlebars where they will most likely stay until the bike gets traded in down the road.

One of the latest toys that was delivered by my now very acquainted postal lady is a satellite communicator GPS tracking device know as the Delorme inReach SE.  This specific device was new to the market last year; Delorme makes the only two-way text communicator using the satellite grid up in space for the consumer market.  This works anywhere in the world, just like a satellite phone.  I will be able to receive and send text messages with my family, friends, and anybody else that I like no matter how remote I get in Canada or Alaska.  There will be days I will be outside of cellular phone range, and phone service that far north can be very spotty even with land-based telephone lines.  This way, after about a minute delay, I can communicate out to the world and receive messages back.  And, it ties into the iPhone through an app, which makes for much easier and quicker typing to the device.

inReach SE, next to the new motorcycle grip

Even better, the inReach SE works with a online tracking portal that anybody knowing the address can watch me as I move around on the motorcycle.  Kind of “big-brotherish”, it does allow the loved ones to keep an eye on you and make sure you aren’t lying in the bottom of a ditch somewhere.  Once I get everything configured, I will see about possibly putting the tracker up on the blog here for anybody that may be interested in coming along for the journey over the Internet.

The last awesome feature is the SOS button.  Pressing the button allows for an immediate connection to GEOS, a 24/7 world-wide emergency response and dispatching service.  Should I end up in a ditch, or half eaten by a bear, or decide to try the entire Dalton Highway and wipe out in the slop that makes up the gravel road, the inReach can be a lifesaver.  The nice thing about the service is that it is payable by the month, not by the year like some other services are.  So, I can activate service whenever I like and not get stuck paying for all those months in the year that I won’t need it.  I can be evacuated by a helicopter to a hospital fairly quick if need be.

So….the “to do” list for the motorcycle nears completion.  I only have one item left, and that is to troubleshoot the CB radio; something I need another person with a CB to assist with.  I’ll put out a call for help to the local HOG group when it warms up and see who responds.  Other than that, and packing up the bike, everything is mechanically ready on the Mistress for the journey.  I’m hesitant to say it, in the worries of “jinxing” myself, but maybe if I say it then it won’t happen:  My concern is that with all the work I have done on the bike in preparation, what if I am missing something obvious that won’t make it through the ten thousand mile journey?  Guess this is where I start triple checking everything…and making sure I have plenty of tools with me, just in case.  And this reminds me…time to pay HOG for another year of towing services, just in case it is needed.

I will try to take some pictures and notes of all the other gear that is going on this trip over the next few weeks and get things posted for anybody interested.